Media specialists at the International Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) and Internews Earth Journalism Network, have stated that journalists need more training and greater access to sources and information to be able to effectively report on biodiversity issues.
“Journalists need more training and greater access to sources and information if they are to effectively tell an under-reported story that has profound implications for livelihoods, health and businesses the world over - the silent decline in the planet’s biological resources,” they said.
One of the media specialists who will formally launch their Biodiversity Media Alliance (BMA) during the conference of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on 27 October in Nagoya , Japan, Mike Shanahan of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), said “The declining status of the earth’s natural riches threatens to undermine the future prospects of all people but so far this story has gone unreported, and outside of professional circles very few people are even aware of what is at stake.”
According to a statement issued by the IIED, the BMA partners will work together to support journalists in developing countries to report on the world’s biodiversity, what its decline means for humanity, and how it can be tackled.
A second media specialist, Alison Coleman, IUCN Regional Communications Officer, for her part, stated that “Journalists generally consider biodiversity loss to be a less urgent issue than climate change or the economy,” adding that “The media needs to do a better job of explaining its importance to economies, livelihoods and people’s health.”
To her, that will be critical to the achievement of the targets in the new strategic plan that 193 governments are due to adopt in Nagoya later in the month.
The statement indicated that already the alliance has created an online social network — http://biodiversitymedia.ning.com — where hundreds of journalists and biodiversity experts can interact, saying it aims to develop training activities to ensure that journalists can tell the story of biodiversity in ways that are relevant to their audiences.
Adding his voice, James Fahn, executive director of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network said “Media capacity building programmes on climate change have led to a significant increase in public awareness of this issue, but so far donors have not treated biodiversity as enough of a priority.”.
He declared that “When supported, media coverage of biodiversity has had a direct impact on policies – such as when Vietnamese journalists helped protect Tam Dao National Park and uncovered a wildlife smuggling ring.”
Meanwhile, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) new strategic plan, to be adopted in Nagoya , includes 20 targets to be achieved by 2020 or sooner, to limit the loss of biodiversity and ensure that natural resources are used fairly and sustainably.
Shanahan submits further; “Target 1 of the CBD’s new strategy states that, by 2020 at the latest, all people should be aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably,” saying, while “Journalists have a vital role to play in making sure that happens, the Biodiversity Media Alliance aims to help them do that.”